Previously on SSC, Aulë had created the Dwarves, telling no one but Yavanna, who immediately was unthrilled. Worried about what the Dwarves (and Elves/Men) would do to her plants and animals, she beat cheeks for Manwë, keeping the whole Dwarves things on the down low. He asked her to pick one thing to protect, and she chose the trees. Manwë totally didn’t get it, but “it was in the song,” she said, referencing the song the trees sang when Manwë and Ulmo created rain. Not using his big boy ears even a little bit, Manwë totally missed the song and had to give the whole situation a bit of thought.
Manwë Gets Hip to the Trip, Daddy-O
As Manwë was deep in thought, probably mulling over how someone as awesome as he was could not pick up the song of the trees, Ilúvatar, like the ethereal Arthur Fonzarelli that he was, elbowed the cosmic jukebox and caused Manwë to hear the cut once more. This time, he caught it.
The song of the trees was a vision, which now included Manwë. Think of it as A-ha’s “Take On Me” video, if you like – “all was upheld by the hand of Ilúvatar; and the hand entered in…” When it did, Manwë saw everything that he missed the first time, and quite a bit more which Ilúvatar only showed to him in that moment.
What Ilúvatar showed him was that Yavanna’s wish for the trees to be protected would come to life. When the Elves finally awoke, “spirits from afar” would come to Arda and go among the plants and animals. Some would dwell within the bodies of these living things “and their just anger will be feared.”
These were, among possible other creatures, the Eagles and the Ents. They would thrive pretty much at the same time as the Elves. When the Men would later come into power, they would withdraw.
This doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. It was Dwarves that Yavanna was mostly worried about. Men would have had to come in second on the Valar Anxiety Scale. That the protectors of the plants and animals would wane when these Men came into power (what to speak of the Dwarves) seems like it would be bad timing at best.
Wait.. The Eagles Came From What?
While Tolkien isn’t known for his bad writing and campy dialog, much bad writing and campy dialog was inspired by Tolkien. What first comes to mind is the movie Ator 2 – L’invincibile Orion
, also known as The Blade Master, but more famous from its appearance in a Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode, Cave Dwellers. When Zor asked Akronis: “Why did your daughter fly like an arrow straight towards the sun?” it’s some if the most perfectly bad ‘Tolkien’.
Unfortunately the same effect is achieved by Tolkien himself when Manwë asked Yavanna: “Did not thy thought and mine meet also, so that we took wing together like great birds that soar above the clouds?” Seriously, Tollers. Were you high?
But this little bit of scribble explains how the Eagles were manifest. “That also shall come to be by the heed of Ilúvatar, and before the children awake there shall go forth with wings like the wind of Eagles of the Lords of the West.” That’s right. The Eagles will go forth with the wings like the wind of Eagles. Come on! Sum up!
Picking through all of this, we can deduce that the Eagles in Middle-earth, such as Gwaihir, were based upon Manwë’s Eagles, which were themselves based upon actual eagles. Why? Because Manwë and Yavanna’s thoughts were somehow soaring like eagles. Ilúvatar saw this brilliant metaphor and acted upon it. Chicks dig metaphors.
Who’s Zoomin’ Who? What? When?
It’s not stated how many times Yavanna rolled her eyes at Manwë’s bad poetry, but in the end, she figured that it would be the Eagles of Middle-earth who would perch in the trees, watching over the forests. That should thought this indicates that what Yavanna heard in the song of the trees, the “Music,” wasn’t anything even closely resembling the Ents. Basically, it seems what Yavanna heard was that the things she devised, animals and plants, required some sort of protection regardless of the Dwarves.
What Manwë heard (when he finally bothered to listen) was that the Eagles and Ents were what that protection would look like. It just took a lot of breath to spit it out.
Manwë explained that the Eagles would roost in the mountains “and hear the voices of those who call upon us” while “the Shepherds of the Trees” [the Ents] will walk in the forests. While the Ents bit is pretty clear, the Eagles role isn’t at all.
It would be simple to say that the Ents would watch over the plants and the Eagles would look after the animals. But that’s not what’s said. It’s sort of implied that the Ents would take care of both roles, while the Eagles would, in Manwë’s words, “hear the voices of those who call upon us.” Eagle Post?
But who would be calling upon the Valar? And when? The chronology of this is scattered. We learn first that “when the Children awake” the thought of Yavanna will also awake “and it will summon spirits from afar,” which will go among the plants and animals. However, we’re also told that “before the Children awake” the combined thought of Manwë and Yavanna “there shall go forth with wings like the wind of Eagles of the Lords of the West.”
So basically the Eagles will come before the Children wake, and the Ents will come when the Children wake. But if the Eagles’ only job is to “hear the voices of those who call upon us” what the hell will they be doing before the Children are awakened? Were they to hear the Maiar? It’s all pretty vague.
Never Mind Me, I’m Just Smithin’ Around
Whatever Manwë meant, Yavanna seemed thrilled and a little sassy. When she got back to Aulë, she found him in his smithy pouring molten metal into a mold because of course he was. Filled with a bit of piss and vinegar, she said to him: “Now let thy children beware! For there shall walk a power in the forest whose wrath they will arouse at their peril.”
Notice how she really doesn’t seem to care at all about the Eagles. She seems to be saying “sure, Manwë, our thoughts were like one and soared like an Eagle to the sea, soared like an Eagle, let my spirit carry me the fuck out of your creepy little god space!” Or some such thing.
But Aulë, who really didn’t have any room to be sassy in return, was sassy in return. “Nonetheless they will have need of wood.” Sure, but whose fault is that, Aulë? Who came up with that little quirk, oh Lord of Needing Wood for Stuff? Oh Sunshine, you can’t have it both ways. And with that, he went back to his work, scorning Yavanna and basically winning everything. He was kind of a dick like that.
Now, of course, the groundwork is laid for the myriad battles and conflicts fought between the Dwarves and the Ents over the plethora of forests in Middle-earth! I can’t wait to read about how Durin’s Folk clear cut the Grey Wood only to be torn asunder by the vengeful wrath of the Ents! We’ll all thrill at the exciting tales of when the Dwarf Lords diverted the Tieglin, choking the trees of Brethil, and raising the spiteful ire of Forest Shepherds to murderous rage!
That’s all bound to happen, right? Oh of course it is! And it’ll be absolutely smashing!
- The Fonz!
Pages & Text
- Page 46
- Chapter: Of Aulë and Yavanna, Paragraphs 17-23
- Starting with:
“Then Manwë sat silent, and the thought of Yavanna…”
- Ending with:
“…and he went on with his smith-work.”